‘Continue this way’

‘Continue this way’

Ajax kicks off against PEC Zwolle on Sunday afternoon at 16:45 in the Amsterdam ArenA. It’s a genuine topper, as both teams share top spot in the Eredivisie with PSV. In PEC, Ajax faces an opponent they lost to only a few months ago, but Frank de Boer isn’t thinking about that match anymore: “We’ve come a long way since then.”

First, De Boer looked back at last week’s play: “I saw the things I wanted to see executed very well against NAC. It was even better against Apoel. The confidence within the team is starting to grow, we need to continue this way. We don’t want to sink below the bottom level, like we did against Feyenoord. We looked around at each other, we watched the footage and hopefully everyone has learned from that.”

De Boer hasn’t been able to find a spot for everyone in this match against PEC Zwolle: “Stefano Denswil, Mike van der Hoorn and Lerin Duarte aren’t included: they’ve played too little lately, so they’ll be playing with the Ajax Reserves this weekend. I hope that we don’t lose two defenders on Sunday, because I’ve got only one extra one on hand. But I feel that it’s important that everyone regularly gets their playing time.”

Ajax hasn’t been able to win its last three matches against PEC Zwolle. Still, De Boer won’t go as far as to say that PEC is a fearsome opponent: “PEC is an opponent who has given us a hard time very often. It’s a good team, who has performed well against other top teams. We’ve got a better selection, but if we don’t bring that little bit extra, then it will be difficult. I’m expecting PEC to treat us the same way as in previous confrontations. Well-grouped, and choosing their moments to apply pressure. But we’ve come a long way since then.”

With the exception of two players, the selection is complete: “Lasse Schöne is completely fit. Robert Muric isn’t there yet, but may be able to play his matches next week. I’m expecting that he’ll recover fast. Viktor Fischer is taking steps, but I’m not expecting him back before the winter break. If he returns earlier, that will be a nice bonus.”